Classy Sharapova to play Wimbledon qualifying, won’t request main-draw wildcard

Even though Maria Sharapova technically doped at just one tournament, the 2015 Australian Open, with the substance that had been approved for years before that, on her return from a 15-month suspension the Russian is exposed to a tornado of insults and rejection, the last one being the rejection of a wildcard for Roland Garros. Possessing the fighting spirit that changed her destiny and brought her from Siberia to the top of the world, Sharapova will battle for her way back up step by step and today she has announced that she will not apply for a Wimbledon main-draw wildcard, rather, she will take the longer way through qualifying.

This is what the 30-year-old Sharapova said after being dumped by the French Open earlier this week:

Sharapova, who has improved her ranking to No.211 after playing Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome since her return, will have to win through three qualifying matches to earn a spot in Wimbledon’s main draw. Qualifying in Roehampton will be ticketed for the first time this year and each ticket will cost 5 GBP.

Ahead of Wimbledon, Sharapova will play the grasscourt tournament in Birmingham, for which she received a wildcard a few months ago.

My opinion is that the French Open is wrong for not awarding Sharapova a wildcard. Some WTA players argue that Sharapova doesn’t deserve a privileged status, but I disagree, because her biography definitely puts her ahead of the rest and also remember that at tournaments local players often get the privilege of a wildcard, so we can argue that it’s unfair to players from other countries who don’t host WTA tournaments.

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11 thoughts on “Classy Sharapova to play Wimbledon qualifying, won’t request main-draw wildcard

  1. Sabey

    Wasn’t so classy when she was grabbing every wild card she could get. Live and learn I guess.
    This is the right decision and had she taken this path from the start she could have earned the respect from the other players and tennis fans and would have been treated much better on her return.
    Any player who thinks they are bigger than the game should be brought down to earth.

  2. joe

    As much as I enjoy reading your blog, I have to whole heartedly disagree with you on maria.
    Why was she taking this drug to begin with? Do you honestly think she has heart problems? c’mon! She was taking this drug, meldonium, to increase blood flow, which improves exercise capacity in athletes. If she legitimately needed to take this drug, couldn’t her team or doctor ask for an exemption to the rule or take another heart medication? Since neither maria or her team did that, it makes it clear to me that she didnt need the melodonium, other than for purposes to help her on court. She claimed she had been taking the drug for 10 years because of a magnesium deficiency and family history of diabetes. Seriously, magnesium and diabetes? this from a woman who wells sugarpova candies! This is a slap in the face. She doesnt even sell sugar free candy in her line!
    Additionally, her playing Birmingham, probably also includes a hefty appearance fee by them and a guarantee by her and her team that she will play there for at least another year! She is not doing this to be classy but to guarantee a steady paycheck.
    No one on tour likes her and that says alot about her as a person and her character. Yes she makes money for sponsors but beyond her blonde hair and lithe frame, she is a B+ tennis player who looks good in tennis outfits and grunts like she’s having sex on court

  3. JohnnyB

    Here comes the haters. They have nothing logical to say. She had a longer penalty than a man (12 months) who did worse than she. Her punishment was 15 months – the WTA CEO said she should not be punished further. The French begged her to take a wildcard at Strasburg. The hypocritical French Open gave a wildcard to a FRENCH MAN who BET on tennis, a far more damning offense. Pete Rose was banned for life for betting on baseball.

  4. Claire

    I feel that everything has already been said on the meldonium matter but I do completely agree with Sabey and joe. Just to remind you, it is a long process before a substance gets banned – you have to become aware of its existence to start with, and the statement that this “substance had been APPROVED for years before” isn’t just correct. This is not about hate, just an amibition to keep the sport clean. There is no reason to give (or ask for!) WC:s to a person who has been off the courts not due to injury or sickness, but because of a doping ban! All cred to the French Open. “Classy”, seriously?? Qualifying for Wimbledon is probably a wise decision for her since she needs matches. @JohnnyB: I don’t know enough about betting and you are probably right that it should be banned, but still, doping is doping – and we don’t want that.

  5. bella

    A french player got into qualies of his home coutry’s grand slam – what’s so shocking about that? Yes, he was banned for gambling, but that’s over just like Maria’s ban is over. The only difference here is that every country supports their player during grand slams irrespective of their previous indiscretion. I am sure Russians would have given Maria the preference in such situations if they had a grand slam running there. Hell! they would have given her a wildcard! So far, Maria hasn’t shown contrition at all and her excuse of having a family history of diabetes and heart disease is something no one is buying. Her use of meldonium peaked during slams. Was her non-existent heart disease giving her more issue during slams? Also, like Andy Murray said, it seems like a lot of professional athletes have heart problems. Magnesium deficiency is not a life threatening issue. Coming from a healthcare background, there are many ways to combat it, including using dietary adjustments! Let’s not forget the fact that she is the highest paid female athlete, so surely she can afford the best of the best of everything.

  6. Emman Damian

    Maria’s issue is very complex. For me, she did the right thing when she insisted to play Wimbledon qualifying instead of asking for a main draw WC. I think it will also be an advantage for her. One thing I didn’t like was there will be an entrance fee for qualifying for the first time. It’s really a big attraction for them to get Maria.

  7. Marija Post author

    Joe, when it comes to Sugarpova, Maria is a businesswoman and that brand is yet another money-making project in her life, nothing personal. As for her Meldonium use, the fact is that she used the illegal substance at just one tournament and that was her unintentional mistake. Otherwise, she’s allowed to use everything that’s not banned and that helps her. I could never call her a B+ tennis player, she’s an exceptional player and a five-time Grand Slam champion to back that up! Also, it’s not that all the players hate Maria, some players, like Kuznetsova, have supported her.

  8. Sabey

    Sharapova used this drug as a performance enhancer for ten years. She claims it was for a heart condition but never listed it once as a drug she was taking (players are supposed to list every single thing they take including supplements and pain killers). No one in her team (not even her American doctor) knew she was using it. It was not illegal because it was not discovered until the Russian doping scandal blew open. It was declared illegal once WADA figured out that so many Russian Athletes were on it and that it boosted performance.
    Technically she only doped for one grand slam tournament but has been using this for a decade. It was not an unintentional mistake as she had been taking it for ten years. She did not bother to read the banned list and as no one on her team knew she was on it they missed it too. Not sure where the “honesty” is in that.

  9. Ron

    I have to say i agree with marija here. The FO awarded a wild card to a player who’s betting on matches which is something that is not okay to the sport just as doping, and the confusing part is that the reason why they decided not to give the wild card to Maria is that the want to maintain the “double standard” but yet they give a wild card to a player who’s betting on matches.

    What i’m saying is if they want to embrace the double standard they should apply that to anyone including him. It’s definetely a questionable and inconsistent move by the FO.
    But at the end of the day this is a french tournament and he’s french, so…

  10. Johnnyb

    Just wanted to clarify a few points:

    The drug has never been tested to see if it actually boosts performance. It was banned simply because many athletes were using it and therefore thought to be a performance booster. There were no actual tests performed.

    Many players and most if not all Russians support Maria. The WTA does not want to see her punished more then she already has been.

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